Mental Health Commission

Questions (258)

Michael Ring

Question:

258. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health the number of tribunal hearings allocated to each of the chairpersons retained on the list of those retained by the Mental Health Commission in 2019 and to 31 August 2020 [26159/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The allocation of cases is on rotational basis. The system pre Covid-19 was that each member of the panel had indicated the areas in which they could do work and were assigned cases for those areas on a rotational basis. From 30 March onwards, all panel members were assigned cases across the entire country as the tribunals were being held remotely. For further details, please refer to the MHC Guidance document https://www.mhcirl.ie/File/info_guid_pm.pdf

Mental Health Commission

Questions (259, 260)

Michael Ring

Question:

259. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health the number of tribunal hearings allocated to chairpersons by the Mental Health Commission in centres in counties Mayo, Galway, Sligo and Roscommon in 2019 and to 31 August 2020 [26161/20]

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Michael Ring

Question:

260. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health the name of the lawyers appointed as chairpersons of tribunals by the Mental Health Commission in each of the years 2019 and to 31 August 2020 in centres in counties of Mayo, Galway, Sligo and Roscommon. [26162/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 259 and 260 together.

Mayo, Galway, Sligo and Roscommon

Please find attached the names of the lawyers (solicitors/barristers) who were appointed as chairpersons of tribunals by the Mental Health Commission from 1 November 2016 to 31 October 2019 and from 1 November 2020 to 31 October 2022 in the counties of Mayo, Galway, Sligo and Roscommon.

In that regard please note the following –

1. The panel changed as and from 1 November 2019 (see section 48 (6) of the Mental Health Act 2001), and

2. As per the previous question, the numbers of Chairpersons available for appointment to tribunals in these areas has been expanded to include all chairpersons on the panel as a result of tribunals being held remotely.

Chairpersons Information

Vaccination Programme

Questions (261)

Denis Naughten

Question:

261. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health if the current advice on the potential impact of the winter flu vaccination programme on the susceptibility to other respiratory viruses (details supplied) will be provided in advance of the administration of the vaccine; if he has engaged with other colleagues across the EU on the issues raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26166/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (262)

Bríd Smith

Question:

262. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health if his Department was notified by a company (details supplied) of a Covid-19 outbreak; if so, when; the actions taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26174/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy will no doubt appreciate I am not in a position to comment on individual cases or outbreaks in order to protect the privacy and confidentiality of those involved.

The Deputy may wish to note that the Department of Health does not receive direct notification from companies of outbreaks of Covid-19 in the workplace. The Departments of Public Health within the Health Service Executive (HSE) respond to notified cases or outbreaks of Covid-19. A risk assessment of the situation is carried out and appropriate investigations are undertaken and control measures put in place. If Public Health determines there is an outbreak, an Outbreak Control Team is convened who would then advise on control measures.

I would also like to draw the Deputy's attention to the “Return to Work Safely Protocol - COVID-19 Specific National Protocol for Employers and Workers” which was published on 9 May, 2020 by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation. It provides clear guidance to employers and to workers on the measures that must be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The Protocol is mandatory, and it applies to all workplaces right across the economy. Specific sectors may need to introduce additional safeguards, but this document sets out the standard set of measures to provide protection against the threat of COVID-19. It is a matter for the employer to make decisions relating to actions to be taken in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 in a workplace. This should be described in the COVID-19 Response Plan to be developed by all employers and which is a requirement of the Protocol.

The National Standing Oversight Committee on Cases and Outbreaks of COVID-19 in High Risk settings - Food Processing and Construction sector was established in August 2020 to maintain an ongoing review of the impact of COVID-19 in high risk industries. The membership of this Committee includes relevant Government Departments and Agencies to ensure a cross Government approach is taken to such sectors.

Hospital Procedures

Questions (263)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

263. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the status of a procedure for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26178/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

It is recognised that waiting times for scheduled appointments and procedures have been impacted as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the HSE had to take measures to defer most scheduled care activity in March, April, and May of this year. This was to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work. This decision was in line with the advice issued by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) in accordance with the advice of the World Health Organisation.

The resumption of services from June onwards has allowed for increased activity, with the HSE utilising innovative methods including telemedicine to facilitate patient appointments. Patient safety remains at the forefront of service resumption. To ensure services are re-introduced in a safe, clinically-aligned and prioritised way, hospitals are following HSE clinical guidelines and protocols which has resulted in reduced capacity and activity

The HSE continues to optimise productivity through alternative work practices such the use of alternative settings including private hospitals, community facilities and alternative outpatient settings.

The National Treatment Purchase Fund has also recommenced arranging treatment in both private and public hospitals for clinically suitable patients who have been waiting for long periods on public hospital waiting lists.

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy is a standardised approach used by the HSE to manage scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures. It sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists and was developed in 2014 to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Paediatric Services

Questions (264)

Carol Nolan

Question:

264. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health when the vacant position for a paediatric diabetic nurse at the Midlands Regional Hospital, Mullingar will be filled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26182/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Hospital Facilities

Question No. 266 answered with Question No. 227.

Questions (265)

Joe Carey

Question:

265. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health if he will report on progress to increase acute bed capacity at University Hospital Limerick; when the 60-bed modular unit and the planned 96 bed ward block will become operational; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26183/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service issue, I have asked the Health Service Executive to reply to the Deputy directly as soon as possible.

Question No. 266 answered with Question No. 227.

Disability Services Provision

Questions (267)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

267. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the status of an application by a person (details supplied) for a laptop and software; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26188/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives.

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Medicinal Products

Questions (268)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

268. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Health the status of the availability of imfinzi for advanced lung cancer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26189/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE has statutory responsibility for decisions on pricing and reimbursement of medicines under the community drugs schemes, in accordance with the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013. In line with the 2013 Health Act and the national framework agreed with industry, a company must submit an application to the HSE to have a new medicine added to the reimbursement list.Reimbursement is for licenced indications which have been granted market authorisation by the European Medicines Agency or the Health Products Regulatory Authority.In making a relevant reimbursement decision, the HSE is required under the Act to have regard to a number of criteria including efficacy, the health needs of the public, cost effectiveness and potential or actual budget impact.HSE decisions on which medicines are reimbursed by the taxpayer are made on objective, scientific and economic grounds, on the advice of the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE).The HSE has advised that on 28 March 2019 an application was received for the reimbursement of durvalumab (Imfinzi®) as monotherapy for the treatment of locally advanced, unresectable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in adults whose tumours express PD-L1 on 1% of tumour cells and whose disease has not progressed following platinum-based chemoradiation therapy.In May 2019, the HSE commissioned a full pharmacoeconomic assessment with respect to this indication. On 30 August 2019, the NCPE received the applicant’s submission for this assessment. On 7 May 2020, the NCPE completed its assessment and recommended that durvalumab be considered for reimbursement if cost effectiveness can be improved relative to existing treatments.The final HTA report was reviewed by the HSE Drugs Group, along with the outputs of commercial negotiations which took place in June 2020. In July 2020, the HSE Drugs Group made a recommendation to support reimbursement of durvalumab.The final decision-making authority in the HSE is the HSE Executive Management Team (EMT). The HSE EMT decides on the basis of all the demands it is faced with (across all services) whether it can fund a new medicine, or new uses of an existing medicine, from the resources that have been provided to it in line with the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013. The application remains under consideration with the HSE.

Ambulance Service

Questions (269, 270, 271)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

269. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health the number of calls made to the ambulance service in Thurles, County Tipperary from 1 January to 1 September 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26207/20]

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Jackie Cahill

Question:

270. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health the number of calls to the ambulance service in Thurles, County Tipperary from 1 January to 1 September 2020 that were for outside the mid-west region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26208/20]

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Jackie Cahill

Question:

271. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health the number of calls to the ambulance service in Thurles, County Tipperary from 1 January to 1 September 2020 for the Thurles and mid-west region that were dealt with by ambulances from outside the Thurles area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26209/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 269, 270 and 271 together.

As these are service matters, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Disability Services Funding

Questions (272)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

272. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health his views on a matter regarding the promotion of rights for persons with intellectual disabilities in Budget 2021 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26210/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

In relation to the actions under the remit of my Department, the level of funding available is being considered as part of the national Estimates and budgetary process for 2021 which is currently underway. Pending completion of this process it is not appropriate for me to comment further at this stage

Vaccination Programme

Questions (273)

Thomas Gould

Question:

273. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Health the reason the delivery of flu vaccinations has been delayed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26211/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Given the potential for the winter flu season in 2020/2021 to coincide with a resurgence of COVID, and the importance of minimising hospital attendance, the Government is expanding the provision of vaccination without charge to all of those in the at-risk groups, including healthcare workers, and to all children aged from 2 to 12 years.

Vaccines will be administered via GPs and pharmacists, as in previous years.

The expanded programme will ensure that those most vulnerable to the effects of influenza will have access to vaccination without charges. By providing vaccination to those most at-risk, and those most likely to require hospitalisation if they contract influenza, it is anticipated that the programme will see a reduction in the number of influenza-related hospital admissions, as well as a reduction in the overall spread of influenza in the community.

I am aware that, following a delay in the delivery of the first batch of vaccines from the manufacturer, the first deliveries of influenza vaccines to all sites (GPs, pharmacists, nursing homes etc.) started on 17th September. For the initial deliveries, the quantities of influenza vaccine delivered to sites are the same as previous years. The quantities of vaccine available to order by sites will be increased in line with the amounts received into the country. All shipments, totalling 1.35 million individual doses, are expected to be delivered before the end of October. The HSE is in daily contact with the manufacturer. Delivery of the nasal vaccine used to be used for children is not affected.

The number of doses procured by the HSE is sufficient to vaccinate all in the at-risk groups. The start date of the vaccination programme will be late September or early October, the same as in previous years. The vaccination programme for children is expected to commence from mid-October.

The vaccination campaign will be accompanied by a comprehensive communications campaign to encourage the greatest possible take-up.

Departmental Contracts

Questions (274)

Holly Cairns

Question:

274. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health the amount spent on hiring private public relations companies and communications consultants by his Department between 1 March 2020 and 21 September 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26225/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

My Department engaged a firm in September 2020 to support the launch of Government's Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19. The requirement was support to develop accompanying collateral and materials for the launch.

This was a short-term contract and while invoicing is not yet complete, the cost is expected to be €2500 plus VAT, in line with the quote received.

HSE Staff

Questions (275)

Holly Cairns

Question:

275. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health the number of employees in occupational health departments in the HSE; and his plans to recruit additional staff [26226/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service related matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy, as soon as possible.

Midwifery Services

Questions (276, 277)

Holly Cairns

Question:

276. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health if his Department or the HSE responded to the call by an association (details supplied) in March 2020 to examine and assess the amount of antenatal care that can be provided by midwives antenatally in community halls, centres and hotels or in the home; if so, if the result of the assessment will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26227/20]

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Holly Cairns

Question:

277. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health the way in which his Department or the HSE responded to the call by an association (details supplied) in March 2020 to invoke the use of self-employed midwives to provide continuing care to women in labour that may require transfer in from hospital instead of continuing with a home birth as their case midwife; if by issuing honorary contracts or not in view of the fact many midwives already provide services subcontracted by the HSE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26228/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 276 and 277 together.

As the correspondence referred to relates to operational issues, I have asked the Health Service Executive to reply to the Deputy directly as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (278)

Holly Cairns

Question:

278. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health if he or NPHET have considered procedures to introduce sub-county restrictions to counter future clusters or rising transmission rates of Covid-19 which is especially relevant for counties Cork or Galway which may have vastly different rates between the urban centres and rural areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26229/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The NPHET continues to keep the epidemiological situation at a national, regional and local level under close review and it continues to consider all options available in relation to the advice it provides to Government.

Covid-19 Tests

Questions (279)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

279. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health when a Covid-19 test result will issue in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26261/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Legislative Measures

Questions (280)

Michael Ring

Question:

280. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when the Agriculture Appeals (Amendment) Bill 2020 will come before Dáil Éireann in view of the urgency of the situation that exists in the sector (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26002/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Forestry (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2020 (previously titled the Agriculture Appeals (Amendment) Bill 2020), was published on 23 September 2020 and went before Seanad Eireann for second stage debate on the same date. It is scheduled for Committee and Report stage before the Seanad on Friday 25 September, 2020 and is on the indicative schedule of business for Dail Eireann week commencing 29 September 2020.

Forestry Sector

Questions (281)

Niall Collins

Question:

281. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when an application by a person (details supplied) to plant forestry in Kilrush, County Clare will be finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26003/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

An application for the Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme, on behalf of the person named, was received in January this year.

Every application must be assessed to ensure any effect the proposed operations may have on the surrounding landscape and environment are carefully considered. The site was assessed by my Department’s Archaeologist and their report has been received.

The proposed site is close to seven designated sites, including the Rivers Shannon and Fergus estuaries and the Clare coast SPA. Therefore, the application has been referred to my Department’s Ecology Unit.

The person named may wish to have a Natura Impact Statement (NIS) prepared by a suitably qualified person and at their own expense. A NIS can greatly reduce the time it takes to assess and application. If the applicant, having discussed the matter with their Registered Forester, decides to supply a NIS, they may contact my Department for guidance. This guidance will outline the areas upon which the NIS must focus.

Horse Sport Ireland

Questions (282)

Michael McNamara

Question:

282. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will support the application by Horse Sport Ireland to become a commercial semi-State body; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26013/20]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Horse Sport Ireland is a company limited by guarantee. This organisational configuration has been in place since its inception in 2008. A comprehensive review of the structure was carried out by Indecon Consultants in 2017 and recommended certain organisational and governance changes which are in the process of being implemented.

I am not aware of any proposal or any request to change its configuration to that of a semi-State body.